Australian implantable cardiac defibrillator recipients: Quality-of-life issues


Dianne Pelletier, University of Technology, Sydney, PO Box 222, Lindfield, New South Wales 2074, Australia. Email:


Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) have become a well-established therapy for people experiencing potentially lethal dysrhythmias. Australian recipients’ quality of life and adjustment to the device over time, device-related complications, shock and associated sensations, and potential sequelae have not been widely explored. This paper reports a longitudinal prospective study of Australian ICD recipients (n = 74) to determine their responses to the device, health-related quality of life over time and shock experiences. A questionnaire designed for the study and the Medical Outcomes Trust Quality of Life Instrument, the SF36, were completed by recipients prior to and at 3 and 12 months post insertion. Results show that quality of life decreased for general health and social function between 3 and 12 months. Nearly half (49%) of the recipients received shocks within 12 months and the majority (92%) of these experienced sequelae that could make driving hazardous. Half of the population (49%) were driving at 3 months and 69% by 12 months, including 67% of those who had been shocked. Twenty-seven percent were hospitalized with device-related complications. Driving, the shock experience and rehospitalization, the shock experience and driving behaviour are significant issues for those with the implanted device. While it is a limitation of the study that partners and carers were not included, these findings will also be of interest to them.